By Deborah Morrison, VP Pacific Region Programs and Strategic Initiatives
Every ISA semester abroad program in Australia begins with a jam-packed, exciting 4-day/3-night orientation, known as the Bridging Cultures Program. This program not only allows you to cross all your bucket list items off within the first few days, but makes room for more adventures during the rest of your semester!
You’ll arrive into Brisbane, Australia on your international flight and jump aboard the ISA bus bound for Byron Bay for the best way to start your semester abroad.
1.) Experience Byron Bay
Nothing compares to the unique beauty and quirky locals of Byron Bay, Australia. With miles of gorgeous beaches and some of the best surf in the world, Byron Bay has become a visitor’s favorite. You will spend 4 days and 3 nights experiencing the Byron vibe as your first taste of the relaxed Australian culture.
2.) Pet a kangaroo
You know you want to! During your visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, come face to face with these amazing creatures. Give them a scratch behind the ears while they literally eat out of your hand
3.) Hold a koala
They aren’t as soft and cuddly as you would hope (and they actually kind of stink!), but you can’t miss the chance to hold a koala. This experience is only allowed in the state of Queensland, so you’ll want to take advantage of being there and have your picture taken holding a koala while visiting the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the final day of your Bridging Cultures Program.
4.) Meet other students
The Bridging Cultures Program in Byron Bay brings you together with all of the other ISA students who will also be studying abroad at the same university as well as other students who will be studying abroad in other regions of the country. So not only will you establish a network for your local experience, you will also make friends who will be living in other parts of the country. Previous participants have commented that they were able to establish relationships that allowed them to travel and visit students they had met which meant they got more of a “locals” experience while visiting other cities.
5.) Learn about the Aboriginal Culture
The rich Aboriginal culture is mystical and mesmerizing and you will get a first-hand experience during an intimate “Welcome to Country” ceremony with a local tribe elder. You will experience traditional song, dance, and story telling of Australia’s first people.
6.) Learn to surf!
No trip to Australia is complete without testing your hand at surfing! Even if you are timid, the amazing instructors will encourage you to “give it a go” and see if you can catch a wave or two. If you like it, you’ll have a whole semester to find more opportunities to improve.
7.) Kayak the coastal waters
Sea kayaking through mangroves while learning about the local flora and fauna is the perfect way to slow down and enjoy the natural world. Australia is a big land full of beautiful landscapes and shoreline and this activity in Byron Bay will inspire you to experience more natural places throughout your time abroad.
8.) Experience an Aussie BBQ
Throw some shrimp on the barbie, sit back, relax and enjoy this classic Australian cultural experience. Sharing food outdoors is a timeless tradition in the Australian culture, and you’ll do it on day 1.
9.) Spot a dolphin or migrating whale from Captain Cook Lookout
Climb the steps to the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse located at Captain Cook Lookout with 360 degree sweeping views of beaches, ocean, and beautiful sub-tropical forests.
10.) Get ready for your semester abroad
In between all of these amazing adventures, you will also participate in 3 orientation sessions to be sure you are ready to hit the ground running once you arrive at your host university.
Don’t miss out on this epic way to start your semester abroad. The ISA Bridging Cultures Program in Byron Bay, Australia is the perfect way to balance fun, learning, cultural experience, and meet new people – and cross 10 things off your Australia bucket list!